Amy Webb at Harvard Book Store

Tuesday, April 2, 2019 7:00pm

Amy Webb


The Big Nine:
How the Tech Titans and Their Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity

This event includes a book signing

Harvard Book Store welcomes quantitative futurist and founder of the Future Today Institute AMY WEBB for a discussion of her latest book, The Big Nine: How the Tech Titans and Their Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity.

About The Big Nine

We like to think that we are in control of the future of "artificial" intelligence. The reality, though, is that we—the everyday people whose data powers AI—aren't actually in control of anything. When, for example, we speak with Alexa, we contribute that data to a system we can't see and have no input into—one largely free from regulation or oversight. The big nine corporations—Amazon, Google, Facebook, Tencent, Baidu, Alibaba, Microsoft, IBM, and Apple—are the new gods of AI and are short-changing our futures to reap immediate financial gain. 

In this book, Amy Webb reveals the pervasive, invisible ways in which the foundations of AI—the people working on the system, their motivations, the technology itself—is broken. Within our lifetimes, AI will, by design, begin to behave unpredictably, thinking and acting in ways which defy human logic. The big nine corporations may be inadvertently building and enabling vast arrays of intelligent systems that don't share our motivations, desires, or hopes for the future of humanity.

Much more than a passionate, human-centered call-to-arms, this book delivers a strategy for changing course and provides a path for liberating us from algorithmic decision-makers and powerful corporations.


"The Big Nine is provocative, readable, and relatable. Amy Webb demonstrates her extensive knowledge of the science driving AI and the geopolitical tensions that could result between the US and China in particular. She offers deep insights into how AI could reshape our economies and the current world order, and she details a plan to help humanity chart a better course." ―Anja Manuel, Stanford University, co-founder and partner of RiceHadleyGates

"The Big Nine is an important and intellectually crisp work that illuminates the promise and peril of AI. Will AI serve its three current American masters in Washington, Silicon Valley, and Wall Street or will it serve the interests of the broader public? Will it concentrate or disperse economic and geopolitical power?. . The Big Nine should be discussed in classrooms and boardrooms around the world." ―Alec Ross, author of The Industries of the Future

"The Big Nine makes bold predictions regarding the future of AI. But unlike many other prognosticators, Webb sets sensationalism aside in favor of careful arguments, deep historical context, and a frightening degree of plausibility." ―Jonathan Zittrain, George Bemis Professor of International Law and professor of Computer Science at Harvard University

(617) 661-1515
Harvard Book Store
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